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An Exclusive Interview
with Director Ryu Seung-Wan
(Part I)

  2002 Kima


Thanks to Kima, Cinespot was able to conduct an exclusive interview with Korean director Ryu Seung-Wan on UC Berkeley campus in early September 2002. As the primary guest of the film festival who was supposed to attend numerous events, director Ryu was very kind to share his time with us. Since he was well prepared, the interview ran smooth. One exciting fact about this interview is, director Ryu did not only talk about his films, but also provided us an overview of the Korean film industry, which I thought was really insightful. This is absolutely an invaluable resource for those who are interested in learning more about director Ryu and the Korean film market.

The interview was conducted in English by our guest interviewer Wilda Wong, while the questions were constructed by me. I also acted as the photographer during the interview. In addition, I wanted to appreciate two persons - Lee Jong-suk, the President of Kima, for arranging the interview for us, and Professor Kim Kyu-Hyun, who was kind enough to volunteer as our interpreter.

Enjoy the interview below!

Who is Ryu Seung-Wan?

For those who do not know who Ryu Seung-Wan is, here below is a short biography:
Ryu Seung-Wan is a very young and energetic director in Korea. His debut film Die Bad was one of the most highly praised works of 2000. A few months later, he impressed the audience again with his DV shorts. In 2002, he finally directed his first ever feature film, No Blood No Tears and it further secured his position as one of the most promising directors of his generation.

  Director Ryu & Mr. Kim  

No Blood No Tears

Cinespot: I heard that a US production company wants to do a remake of No Blood No Tears and is working on the license, what do you think about that?

Ryu: I feel very positive about it. I think it is an honor for me. Korean films and culture are not known until then. I hope the remake will be an infiltration of the korean culture into the us market. Generally, I consider it to be very positive. The only problem is that the money they pay for the right to remake is not that much. I wish it's a little more. (laugh)

Cinespot: Do you think the remake will make a success in the US?

Ryu: It depends on what producer and what kind of screenplay they have. I don't have much to say about that. A lot of Korean movies have right being sold to US companies, but not a single movie has actually be shown or released, I am very curious about how the process will turn out to be. One question I am concerned is that, what if the movie being remade is too successful? I was afraid that if the remake becomes too successful in the U.S., it will become a cheap source of ideas for Hollywood (note: because the rights to his film and other Korean films were bought for a very very low price), and I don' t want this to happen because it will ruin Korean cinema's chances abroad if the U.S. takes all the ideas away. So if people still love (American actors like) Tom Cruise more than Asian actors (even famous ones like Chow Yun Fat), then those movies with Americans in it will take away any chances of Korean cinema being visible in the world.

Cinespot: What was it like working with Jeon Do-Yeon? Do you think you will work with her again in the future?

Ryu: She is a professional actress and it was very comfortable working with her. We may work together again later, or we may not, it all depends on circumstances. In Korea, the star power is very big. The director was supposed to choose the actors or actresses, but in fact, the actresses choose the director in most cases. Because I am married, I am not popular among young actresses. (laugh)

Cinespot: Was Jeon Do-Yeon your first choice for No Blood No Tears?

Ryu: Originally it was not Jeon Do-Yeon. Anyway, in No Blood No Tears, What I wanted was to deglamorize her to a certain extent. That's my intention. It was interesting to see whether a glamorous woman like Jeon Do-Yeon can become a desperate woman. To have somebody who is beautiful and doesn't have that image (the desperate woman character in No Blood No Tears) and make her into that kind of character was very interesting.

Director Ryu listening   Director Ryu speaking

For Part II of the interview, please click here!